Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Columbus's World

  • Series: Columbus and the Age of Discovery
  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $149.00
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Columbus, Christopher. America - Exploration. Explorers. Discoveries (in geography).
  • Production Information: Live action. Color. 58 min.
  • Production Company: WGBH (Boston)
  • Available from: Films for the Humanities and Sciences PO Box 2053 Princeton, NJ 08543 (800)257-5126
  • Cataloging: 970.01 Columbus, Christopher||America - Discovery and exploration - Spanish|| Civilization, Medieval
  • Print Entry #: 3:1194
  • Reviewer: Margaret Loucks

    Columbus's World is part one of the Columbus and the Age of Discovery series originally broadcast on PBS in the fall of 1991 in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the voyages of Christopher Columbus.

    A superb production, it is well narrated by Will Lyman and Mauricio Obregon, as well as various university professors and historians drawing on the explorer's own letters and ship's logs. The dramatization and photography are first-rate, documenting the European and Asian world as it was known prior to and at the time of Columbus.

    Live action takes the viewer to the Spice Islands, Japan, China, Cairo, Constantinople, Genoa, and Venice, while explaining the lure of the Orient for the Italian merchants and Columbus in particular. Artwork of the time in the form of oil paintings and illuminations are interspersed throughout, thus enhancing the presentation.

    The introductory segment sets the stage for the seven-hour series and poses the questions that following episodes attempt to answer. Among them: Who was this man? What happened when he brought two worlds together for the first time? The story spans the globe and retraces the extraordinary voyages of the explorer from the Old World to the New.

    This video is highly recommended and will be an excellent purchase for junior high, high school, college, and public libraries.

    An Idea Takes Shape

  • Series: Columbus and the Age of Discovery
  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $149.00
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Columbus, Christopher. America - Exploration. Discoveries (in geography). Voyages and travels.
  • Production Information: Live action. Color. 58 min.
  • Production Company: WGBH (Boston)
  • Available from: Films for the Humanities and Sciences PO Box 2053 Princeton, NJ 08543 (800)257-5126
  • Cataloging: 910.92 Columbus, Christopher||America - Discovery and exploration||Explorers
  • Print Entry #: 3:780
  • Reviewer: Joseph L. Carlson

    Amidst the hoopla and protests surrounding the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyages in 1492, the seven-part Columbus and the Age of Discovery series takes the wraps off the myths of Columbus and presents him as a man of his time. He is no demigod fearlessly braving the unknown, no robed figure dramatically striding the corridors of power. This outstanding series shows the real Columbus, a man plagued by doubts, intrigued by greed, grasping at tenuous details, and woefully ignorant of the basics of seamanship.

    An Idea Takes Shape focuses on Columbus' efforts to gain financing for his proposals to sail to the west in search of Cathay. The documentary travels to Portugal first, where Columbus received his basic introduction to navigation and grew up in the time of Prince Henry, the greatest sailor of his time. Tales of the riches of the Orient came back to Portugal, which was the preeminent exploring nation, and Columbus could not help but be possessed by the idea of finding a shorter route. His travels along the West African coast showed him the value of gold, while his adventures in the northern seas gave him tantalizing hints of a vast country lying to the west. Skulls of people who were supposed to inhabit these lands were found in the Scandinavian countries and Columbus believed them to be the remains of Orientals because of their flat foreheads.

    Columbus' knowledge of the shape of the earth was never in question, and, indeed, no intelligent person believed that the world was flat. What he failed to accept was the size of the planet, even though ancient Greeks had charted almost exactly the number of degrees that comprised the circumference of the earth. Columbus shortened the distance between degrees, thus shrinking the planet by almost 25 percent and in the process stretching the Asian continent almost to where the Bahamas are. Clearly, he adapted "facts" to fit his theories, and science be damned.

    The documentary ends with his tribulations and successes in Spain, where Ferdinand and Isabella were engaged in ridding their country of the Moors and had little time for the Genoese sailor with grandiose ideas. When their "Reconquista" campaign finally did succeed, they were able to give him another chance to explain his proposals, but he made such impossible demands that they dismissed him again. Queen Isabella, however, extended Columbus one last chance to make his case and tone down some of his requirements.

    This is a beautifully filmed, exquisitely documented series that belongs in every general collection. Long after the last "Columbus Landed Here" T-shirt is sold, this series will serve as a legacy to the vain, flawed, devious man who changed the course of history with his dreams, creativity, daring, and genius.

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    Copyright (C) 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
    Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by
    Gary Handman, Head, Media Resources Center.
    Last update 7/25/96. Server manager: webman@library.berkeley.edu

    Go to Media Resources Center Entry Page


    [ HELP/SEARCH ] [ CATALOGS ] [ COMMENTS ] [ HOME ]
    Copyright (C) 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
    Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by
    Gary Handman, Head, Media Resources Center.
    Last update 7/25/96. Server manager: webman@library.berkeley.edu